Kovan murders: From elite cop to disgraced bankrupt

SINGAPORE - He was once a rising star in the Singapore Police Force.

He regularly won commendations and was even featured on the police website as a model officer who had rendered great service.

In the glowing article, the then-sergeant was named the "pride" of Bedok North Neighbourhood Police Centre, under the Bedok Police Division.

Iskandar Rahmat eventually rose through the ranks and was posted to the Bedok Police Division. He became a senior investigation officer - seen as an elite posting among officers.

But things started to unravel for senior staff sergeant Iskandar after a statutory demand - a demand to pay, secure or compound a debt owed - surfaced.

At a press conference on Saturday morning, Deputy Commissioner (Investigations and Intelligence) and Director of the Criminal Investigation Department Hoong Wee Teck revealed that the suspect was given "administrative duties" and barred from carrying a weapon once his financial status was known.

Shin Min Daily News on Saturday reported that Iskandar is $60,000 in debt.

A check by The New Paper on Sunday revealed that Iskandar was declared a bankrupt a day after the double murder in Kovan.

The petition was filed in October last year by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC).

According to information released by the police on Saturday, Iskandar, 34, joined the police in 1999. His colleagues say he was generally a happy man, but hardly outgoing, mostly keeping to himself. He was also known to go to clubs every now and then.

He married Saadiya Mohamad Kassim on June 14, 2003. Neighbours at their Kim Keat Avenue HDB flat described her as a tall, thin and long-haired woman, who also kept to herself. The couple do not have children.

The New Paper on Sunday understands that there were some marital problems, and the couple could be separated.

Neighbours also said they had not seen either of them for at least three weeks.

The observation about how closed off the family was came with repeated remarks that they hardly interacted with anyone.

We visited the run-down and slightly shabby three-room flat twice on Saturday, and saw an elderly woman, who is believed to be his mother. But no one came to the door despite multiple knocks. His father is said to be a taxi driver.

They were "not doing well", said one source. Some neighbours said the family moved in two to three years ago.

The motive behind the murders of Mr Tan Boon Sin, 67, and his son, Mr Tan Chee Heong, 42, remained unclear on Saturday even as police officers brought the suspect to the scene of the crime at 14J, Hillside Drive.

But what is clear is that the first contact Iskandar had with them was through the older victim.

Mr Hoong told reporters: "We do not know the extent of the relationship between them, but our preliminary investigations reveal that Mr Tan Boon Sin lodged a report at Bedok Police Division in November 2012 informing the police that he was a victim of theft."

"The suspect was the duty investigator, but the case was subsequently reassigned to another investigator who was handling several other reports lodged by others."

The victims' family members told Shin Min Daily News that they did not know Iskandar and had learnt of him through news reports.

A source told TNPS that the older Mr Tan used to assess accident damages for insurance companies. His son apparently helped him in the administrative work of the business.

The pair somehow got to know Iskandar, who then recommended them to people who came to the police with traffic accident issues.

An online Malaysian media report also alleged that there were links between the younger Mr Tan and Iskandar. A well-placed source revealed that they had exchanged messages on their phones.

It was quite a fall from grace for the now-rogue cop.

On Saturday, he was on the other side of the line, with both his feet and hands cuffed as he was brought to the crime scene.

It was a far cry from the previous undated article on the police website - which had been removed by on Saturday morning - that described Iskandar's "exemplary service attitude" as "definitely an inspiration to all".

"Giving attentive and consistent service to his customers is second nature to him. No matter how trivial the matter, Sgt Iskandar always treats customers' problems as important and handles them vicwith empathy," said the article.

"He does not stereotype customers, and handles all requests, calls and cases professionally. His dedication has won the heart of a heartland complainant, Mr Stephen Lee, who wrote a letter of appreciation to commend him for his outstanding work."

Mr Lee was a regular complainant who called the police repeatedly to report noise pollution.

From complaints of neighbours making a lot of noise, to the rag and bone men using their air horns and shouting for business around his neighbourhood.

In the interview, the sergeant had been quoted as saying: "I took his complaint with an open mind and tried my best to help him and dissolve the situation. I think I've carried out the task given to me as well as I could. Helping others has become an everyday thing to me while on patrol or performing counter duties, and it has been buried into my personality and character. I am deeply heartened by his compliments as I felt I was only doing my job."

His dedication had even prompted Mr Lee to write to the police: "All police officers should emulate his professionalism and an officer of his calibre will be a plus factor for the force."

On Saturday, Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee released an impassioned statement. Speaking about Iskandar's fall from grace, he said it had also brought dishonour to the 10,000 other police officers "who dedicate themselves every day to protecting others, and who routinely risk their own safety to preserve those of others".

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean also took aim at the fact that the suspect was a man in blue.

Said Mr Teo at a press briefing at the police headquarters yesterday morning: "The actions that the suspect has been accused of have tarnished the reputation of the police. His actions, if proven, have abused the trust placed in him, and betrayed his colleagues in the police force who serve faithfully and dutifully."

Mr Ng also spoke about how he expected criticism: "Even as we investigate the murders, the police also look to find out what has led an individual who has sworn to uphold the law to now stand accused of breaking it in the most grievous way."

Iskandar will be charged in court on the morning of 15 July.

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